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2012 in Review: Paying tribute to those we lost

Recently I had the opportunity to watch the 2007 PBS documentary “The War,” an outstanding compilation of facts and footage of the great sacrifices our country went through to triumph over evil men.

We lost thousands upon thousands of our military personnel, who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country to defeat fascism and murderous dictators.

Some of the battles that were fought by our men were no-win situations. When the witching hour came for them, many of them had to know it, But they did their duty honorably and valiantly.

In the end, we did not win every battle but we won the war. Sometimes I see law enforcement in the same light. As I write this piece, to date this year 115 of our brothers and sisters in law enforcement have given the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.

That is 115 too many. However, we must look at the big picture.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the 2008 law enforcement statistics show roughly that we have close to 900,000 state, local, tribal and federal police officers in the United States.

That would mean roughly that only 0.012 percent of us lost our lives this year. Can we say then that we are winning the war but not all the battles? I can’t answer that, but what I can answer is that for every one of our fallen brothers, hundreds or perhaps even thousands of deadly force incidents have occurred where officers have survived and the bad guys have lost.

So many of those incidents go unnoticed to the general public, maybe because when we win it’s not as “newsworthy” as when we lose. It’s just us doing our jobs.

It’s often the case that only we, as law enforcement officers, know how serious the situation was or how close of a call we came to being another statistic on the Officer Down Memorial Page.

Our job as law enforcement officers is indeed a dangerous one, much like those soldiers that lost their lives, but they showed up anyway.

Why? Because that’s what so many of them volunteered to do. We do this job because we believe in honor, right and wrong, and justice. Not one of us knows if we will go home at the end of the day, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Take time out of your busy holiday schedule to pay tribute to our fallen comrades, however you see fit, whether it sending a word of encouragement to a fallen officer’s family, visiting an injured officer at home or in the hospital, or maybe spending time with the children of a fallen brother or sister.

It’s a dangerous world we live and work in, and I know I would want the support for my family just as they will need that support.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil.”

Wishing you and yours only the best this holiday season, and as always, stay safe out there.

Lt. Hawkes is a 23-year police veteran. In addition to his years of highway drug interdiction, Lt. Hawkes has worked in patrol, K9, investigations, narcotics, and administration. He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Dallas Baptist University and is a graduate of the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas. He is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Justice Leadership and Administration from the University of Texas at Dallas. He has been the recipient of both State and Local awards, including the Medal of Valor. His book, Secrets of Successful Highway Interdiction, which can be purchased here, contains eleven chapters on Highway Drug Interdiction.